Loggers Buck the Stigma
[or "Politics can be fun"]
(Columbus, OH) After a 19-year hiatus from active political involvement, I recently re-joined the Republican Party. Not through the same mainline GOP path that I pursued many years ago, but through the Central Ohio branch of the Log Cabin Republicans.
I honestly didn't know what to expect from my first Log Cabin Republicans event – a cocktail party to acknowledge Columbus City Councilwoman Jennette Bradley's poise, eloquence and courage during the domestic partnership benefits debate.
Fed up with the intellectual bankruptcy of both parties at the national level and the painful balkanization of opinion that substitutes for debate on public policy, I prepared to go to the event with serious misgivings.
It was with some trepidation that I drove to the meeting – an effort made substantially easier by the fact that Jennette Bradley is one of the few politicians in recent years to make me feel good about the Republican Party.
Not because of her position on the partnership issue, for there are many gays who (gasp!) don't agree that domestic partnership is the most important issue facing the community. But because she is the very embodiment of the historical root principles that first attracted me to the Republican Party low those many years ago. The fact that she is black, and a woman, make for great "feel good" symbolism, but it is her intellectual integrity that gives dignity to what are after all accidents of birth.
I mean, an African-American, a woman and a person with a strong core of political and spitirual beliefs, elected not just from a "black district" and she is (God help us!) a Republican! Eeeeww! One can almost hear the members of the local diversity industry squealing in agony from this leviathan challenge to their own stereotypical beliefs.
But I digress. From the moment I walked into the meeting, John Kost, the jolly and out-going president of Log Cabin Republicans Columbus, made me feel welcome and wanted. OK, I thought, they passed the first test. They weren't a bunch of snobs sniffing my pedigree of Louis XIII brandy.
So I plunked down the very reasonable Log Cabin Republicans membership fee. I couldn't help but muse that for a few greenbacks I was not only taking my first steps to re-engage myself in the community, but I now have the priceless right to tell any Saturday night object d'amour that I am indeed a "logger."
That happy thought soon gave way to my realization that, "Hey, this is just a cocktail party. You don't know any more about this organization now than when you walked in." I heard Rich Tafel, the national executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, was coming to Columbus for another event. "Ah," thought I. "Here's where I will really find out who possesses the heart and soul of this group," if it even has either.
The big day came. In shock I noticed that I was in serious need of a manicure. In a panic, I rummaged through my wardrobe (which proves that the words fashionable and gay are not always utterable in the same sentence.) I felt like I was going to meet my in-laws for the first time. After twenty-three husbands over, you'd think I'd have it down pat.
I called Jeff at Colarugglio's, who responded quite nicely to my threats of physical violence if he didn't squeeze me in for a manicure with Erika. Then it was off to the Men's Wearhouse for a turtleneck that would, I was assured, "be a suitable complement" to my hideously expensive black Perry Ellis sports coat.
Next came the really big question. Glasses or contact lenses? Perhaps a monacle. I mean, they are Republicans. Do Republicans make passes at men who wear glasses? But if I wear my contacts I just know that I'll spend the entire evening running around squinting. Let's see. Hmmm. Glasses or crow's feet? Glasses it is! How about shoes? Dressy loafers? Perfect! Everybody knows Republicans have had a long-standing love affair with tassels – preferably dangling over one's face as one accepts one's Ph.D. But tassels dangling over one's feet make an equally powerful statement. Maybe I could pull this off after all.
For added support I invited my friend Tom along. Tom has an extraordinary history of academic and business achievement and looks every bit the high-powered gray haired executive. So off we went, tassels flopping, to the meeting for my rendezvous with political destiny.
Well, I can't tell you how pleased I was. Once again, the club members were very enthusiastic and welcoming. Tafel, the national executive director, was just as friendly and unpretentious as could be. Bradley was there. State Representative Amy Salerno was there. But best of all, there was a buffet table laden with delicious hors d'oeuvers.
Seriously, in one of the most refreshing realizations in years, I learned that the Log Cabin Republicans is "on message" from an issues perspective and is committed to restoring the GOP to its position as an inclusive and optimistic party, a party of ideas and relevant ideals. I saw and heard ample evidence that the Log Cabin Republicans is working in Washington and Columbus to energize the gay community and the political community with voter outreach, education outreach. They also bring the message that a few twits in Washington and Columbus do not speak for all Republicans, that those who tolerate, or pander to, fear mongers in any political party are the true moral deviants.